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Osaka overpowers Shiga in second half, triumphs in Game 1

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Osaka Evessa held the Shiga Lakestars to 19-for-60 shooting, seized control of the game in the third quarter and made a winner of Evessa coach Shunsuke Todo in his bj-league playoff debut.

Osaka’s 77-54 victory in Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, included this attention-grabbing statistic: The Lakestars didn’t score 20 points in any of the four quarters.

Texas Tech product Darko Cohadarevic led Osaka with 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. D’Andre Bell had 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Evessa, who outscored the hosts 47-26 in the second half.

Third-seeded Shiga trailed 30-28 at halftime.

Yosuke Sugawara and Naoto Nakamura scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Osaka. Kevin Galloway added eight points and 11 assists with seven turnovers, and Zach Andrews contributed seven points.

The sixth-seeded Evessa collected 15 steals, forcing the Lakestars into 23 turnovers.

For Shiga, Dionisio Gomez was the top scorer with 15 points along with 11 rebounds and three steals. Brandon Fields had a 14-point outing, Shuto Mizoguchi had eight points and Marshall Brown scored seven on 2-for-12 shooting with 10 rebounds.

Lakestars big man Shelton Colwell was ejected from the game for a flagrant foul at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter. He’ll serve a one-game suspension and miss Game 2 on Sunday.

Phoenix 70, Rizing 67

In Iwata, Shizuoka Prefecture, guard Jermaine Dixon scored a game-high 22 points and forward Ray Nixon poured in 15 points as fourth-seeded Hamamatsu Higashimikawa defeated Fukuoka in Game 1 of their Western Conference series.

The Phoenix took a three-game losing streak into the playoff opener, but had a strong opening quarter and carried a 22-13 advantage into the second stanza.

Hamamatsu guard Shinnosuke Oishi dished out a season-best eight assists, adding six points and eight rebounds in a productive outing for coach Tomoya Higashino’s team.

Nixon sank three 3-pointers and also blocked a pair of shots. Frontcourt mate Cyrus Tate had seven points and six rebounds. Aki Chambers and Masahiro Oguchi both scored six points for Hamamatsu, which held a 48-41 edge in rebounds, including 18-11 on the offensive glass. Big man Atsuya Ota chipped in with four points, eight rebounds and two assists.

The fifth-seeded Rizing didn’t shoot the ball well. They were 5-for-17 from beyond the arc and 16-for-38 from 2-point range.

Fukuoka forward Reggie Warren, named to the league’s Best Five Team earlier this week, led his team in points (15), rebounds (13) and assists (six). Seth Tarver and David Palmer scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Akitomo Takeno and Cohey Aoki had seven apiece. Masahiro Kano finished with six points and two steals.

“Second-chance points and a slow start cost us the game,” Warren told The Japan Times. “We fought hard to get back in the game, but can’t give a 10-point spot on the road.”

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Albirex BB 80, Brave Warriors 79

In Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture, Thomas Kennedy’s 20-point performance sparked Niigata to a series-opening victory, spoiling fourth-seeded Shinshu’s playoff debut.

Kennedy converted 8 of 11 shots from inside the arc. He missed all three of his long-range attempts, but carried his team on the offensive end.

Southeastern Louisiana University alum Patrick Sullivan contributed 16 points, 15 rebounds (seven offensive boards), two assists, two steals and a block for the Albirex, playing their first playoff game under coach Fujitaka Hiraoka, who was Matt Garrison’s assistant in the previous two seasons.

Niigata’s Shuhei Komatsu drained 4 of 8 3s for his 12 points and fellow perimeter marksman Yuichi Ikeda sank three 3s in a 12-point effort. Nile Murry contributed nine points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists and Kimitake Sato finished with eight points.

The fifth-seeded Albirex had only seven turnovers on the afternoon.

Xavier Gibson paced the Brave Warriors with 33 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Patrick Sanders added 21 points and Shoji Nakanishi scored 10. Shota Konno and Jeff Parmer both had six points and Takato Saito dished out 10 assists.

The Brave Warriors, who trailed 61-51 after three quarters, scored 28 fourth-quarter points. But their comeback attempt came up just short.

Shinshu, a third-year franchise, missed the playoffs in each of its first two seasons in the bj-league.

Northern Happinets 104, Wat’s 80

In Akita, second-year pro Yuki Togashi dominated for key stretches of the Eastern Conference playoff series opener, scoring 25 points and handing out seven assists as the hosts rolled past Aomori.

The 20-year-old Togashi, named to the Best Five Team for the first time this season, made 3 of 6 3-point shots and was 8-for-9 from inside the arc in an electrifying performance.

The third-seeded Happinets shot 61.1 percent from 2-point range, with eight players making 50 percent of more of those shots.

Chas McFarland and Ruben Boykin both scored 17 points for Akita, which outscored the expansion Wat’s 26-14 in the second quarter.

Aomori trailed 53-39 entering the third quarter.

Richard Roby poured in 15 points off the bench for Akita and Shigehiro Taguchi pumped in 12 points.

The sixth-seeded Wat’s missed 13 of 16 3-point shots. They were 15-for-28 at the free-throw line, and committed 20 turnovers.

Anthony Kent paced Aomori with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Makoto Sawaguchi and Gordon Klaiber both had 11 points in the first-year franchise’s first playoff game. Stanley Ocitti had 10 points and Abdullahi Kuso chipped in with nine.

Staying put: Head coach Reggie Hanson has signed a two-year contract to remain with the Shimane Susanoo Magic, the Western Conference club announced on Saturday.

Shimane is coming off the worst season in franchise history. Hanson took over as head coach in January after the team fired Vlasios Vlaikidis after a 5-21 start. Hanson guided the team, which lost All-Star center Jeral Davis to a season-ending hip injury in early February, to a 6-20 record the rest of the way.

“I look forward to working hard to get the Magic back to the playoffs. But I cannot do it alone,” Hanson, a former NBA forward, said in a statement. “I need the Magic boosters to continue to be the best boosters in the bj-league.”

The 45-year-old Hanson has previously served as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky and South Florida.